|Joan & Robert line dancing, 2001|
Thirteen years ago today, I kissed Robert for the first time.
Six years ago today, I kissed Robert for the last time.
Sometimes I think that he chose to die on the anniversary of our first kiss, so that I could soften the memory of his death with the memory of our first kiss. But as vivid as that first kiss is is my mind, as clearly as I still feel the magic of the moonlight on the first night we dared to touch, these memories don’t soften the loss — or the harshness of remembering how this gentle, loving, good man suffered from a painful cancer.
On this anniversary, I keep writing sentences and deleting them. I could write in my journal instead, and every word would stay.
|Robert’s last birthday, 2007|
But I’m not just writing for myself here — I’m writing for you, my community of readers, and many of you have suffered your own losses, many fresher than mine. Some of you are with the person whom you love, and you can’t imagine how you could survive losing your beloved. Others have been alone for a very long time. Some of you are losing someone now.
So what would be of use and of interest to you?
Here are some things that I’ve learned over the six years:
1. It does get better with time. Everyone told me that, and frankly, I couldn’t imagine it during the first years. My heart and gut had been sliced into pieces, the elephant kept stomping on my chest, and the most important person in my world was gone. How could this possibly get better? But it did.
2. We are remarkably resilient. We survive. We learn to laugh again. We feel the life force within us filling us with possibility.
3. We gradually find ourselves able to connect with new people. Many of us learn to love again. No, I haven’t fallen in love again, but believe it or not, I feel more open to that possibility than I ever would have predicted. I am able to connect with men now, and that feels good.
4. We can find our beloved in our world if we look and listen. Sometimes I practice being really quiet and watching nature around me. Then a bird swoops close, alights on a branch, and sings. I like to imagine that Robert sent me that bird.Or that iris that I spot on one of my walks that looks like the one in the kimono painting he created for me for one birthday.
5. We carry within us the best of the person whom we loved. I’m not religious, and I don’t know whether there’s an afterlife. But I do believe that the special lessons we learned from our beloved, the ways we grew that would not have happened without this person, these are the ways that our beloved continues to live. And when we pass those lessons on to someone else, this is immortality.
If you lost a loved one, I invite you to share what you’ve learned since that loss that might help others.
(If you haven’t read Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty — my first senior sex book which narrates our spicy love story, learn more here.)
Want to know more? Below is the 3 minute video, containing some of the same content with more background and context. I discuss some of the myths about senior sex and share why I wrote both Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty and Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex.
As I say in the video, the two books are a team: Better Than I Ever Expected celebrates the joys of senior sex; Naked at Our Age tackles the problems head-on, with advice from the best experts in the field.
Of course, I have a lot more to say about senior sex than I can cover in 3 minutes. If you’d like to bring me to your city to talk out loud about ageless sexuality, see my speech topics and please contact me.
Many thanks to Mitch Rice and Stephen Rice for helping me create this video for you!
View this video in YouTube by clicking here.
Learn more about Joan’s books by clicking here.
My book, Better Then I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty (Seal Press), will be out in January 2006. Please see here for a description of this sassy, sexy book combining my personal story with tips and tales from lusty, sexually seasoned women.
We’re proving that our society’s view of older women as sexless is wrong, wrong, wrong.
I’d like to invite you –whether or not you’re a woman over sixty — to participate in discussions of ageless sexuality. Please choose a first name of your choice and your age to identify yourself, and feel free to post comments and questions regarding this hot and important topic.
To start you out, what makes sex after sixty better than you ever expected, personally?
I’d like your candid views, and I hope you’ll express them respectfully so that all women will feel welcome to read and post, and won’t feel they’ve wandered into a sleazy place. Thank you, and welcome to our community!
In the past 5.5 years, so much has happened, personally and professionally. Better Than I Ever Expected and I received much media attention –we still do! — and I found myself the spokesperson for senior sex. What had started as a mission to normalize the idea of people over 60 enjoying sex and daring to talk out loud about it became a huge groundswell. I thank you for the part you played in this movement.
Thank you for making this blog a center of that movement by reading and commenting, showing other readers that we have a community of seniors and elders — men as well as women now! — discussing sex openly and respectfully in a manner that’s welcoming even to people who are not used to discussing their sex lives.
Because of you, one book led to the next one: Men said to me, “What about us?” and both men and women said, “Great that you’re celebrating senior sex, but I’m having a lousy sex life and here’s my problem….” I realized that my next book needed to be aimed at both genders, and needed to address the problems and offer solutions. It also needed to include your stories, because we’ve never shared our stories in public before.
Our youth-oriented society may still be saying “Ick!” to the idea of people our age getting naked, loving the pleasures our bodies can give us, loving each other (wrinkles and all!) and finding ways to stay sexually vibrant whether we’re partnered or not — but society can’t pretend it isn’t happening!
Thank you for that. I’m honored that you’ve chosen to join me in talking out loud about senior sex!
As always, I invite your comments!
December 10, 2000 — ten years ago exactly — turned out to change my life in every way: my emotions, my personal growth, my sexuality, my view of aging, even my career. That was the evening that Robert’s life journey landed him in my line dance class. He had recently moved to Santa Rosa and was looking for a place to dance.
Here’s how I tell it in Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty (the book that never would have been written without that eventful evening):
Love Dances In
The day that Robert walked into my line dance class, my hormones thought they were twenty years old again. His smile, fit body, and grace of movement caught my eye immediately.
Then, when he started to dance, his years of tap, modern dance, and ballet training were revealed in every movement, and I was lost at sea. His nimble feet, muscled thighs, and sensually mobile hips commanded my attention. I wanted to touch the inviting curl of chest hair that peeked through the open top buttons of his shirt. I met his dazzling blue eyes and pretended to breathe. For the rest of the evening, I kept losing my place in the dance I was teaching because I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
Robert kept coming to class and danced into my heart. I tried to engage him in conversation after class occasionally, and he responded almost warily, answering me but not giving me any signals that my attentions were welcomed or reciprocated. I wondered: Is he gay? Attached? Or simply not interested in me?